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If you can’t pay your bills because of coronavirus

This advice applies to England

There are things you can do if you're struggling to pay your bills because of coronavirus. This includes things like your:

  • rent
  • council tax
  • mortgage
  • energy bills
  • court orders
  • tax bill

It’s important you don’t ignore your bills. Speak to the organisation you owe money to - they might be able to help by letting you pay smaller amounts or take a break.

It’s also worth checking with your bank or building society - they might be able to help you with your debts or let you delay loan or credit card repayments.

Some bills can cause you more problems if you don't pay them. It's worth checking what bills you should pay first.

Check if something is a scam

Make sure you only use trusted sources of information and help about coronavirus and your debts.

Don’t give money or personal details to anyone you don’t know or trust – for example, if someone knocks on your door and offers to help.

You can check if something is a scam.

If you've got less money because of coronavirus

If you’ve been affected by coronavirus, you might be able to claim benefits or get more money on your current benefits if:

  • you have coronavirus, or you’re following guidance to stay at home
  • you’ve lost your job 
  • or you’re self-employed and can’t get work
  • you can’t work because your workplace has closed 

Check what benefits you can get if you’re affected by coronavirus

You can contact your local council to see if they can give you any extra help from a hardship fund. Check your local council on GOV.UK. 

If you get a council tax reduction

If you already get a council tax reduction and are working age, your local council should give you an extra £150 off your bill for 2020-2021. You don't need to do anything - your local council will send you a new bill.

If your council tax bill is already less than £150, you won't have to pay anything for the coming tax year, 2020-2021.

You can find your local council on GOV.UK.

If you don't already get a council tax reduction

You might qualify for a reduction if your income has dropped or if you started claiming benefits recently.

You should check your local council's rules to see if you qualify for a council tax reduction.

If you don't think you qualify, it's still worth asking your local council if you can get a council tax reduction.

You can find your local council on GOV.UK.

If you can’t pay your rent

You should explain the situation to your landlord straight away - they might give you more time to pay, or agree to reduce your rent. 

You still need to pay your rent. If you’ve fallen behind with your rent you should start dealing with rent arrears. You can also check if you can get extra financial help

If your landlord doesn’t offer to be flexible with your rent payments, it’s a good idea to pay as much as you can afford and keep a record of what you discussed. 

You should also contact your nearest Citizens Advice - an adviser can help you explain things to your landlord. 

You may be entitled to benefits to help with housing costs if your income has reduced, even if you’re still working.  

If you rent from a private landlord

You can find out more about dealing with rent arrears.

If you rent from a council or housing association

Find out what to do if you can’t afford to pay rent for your council home

If you’re worried about being evicted

The government has made a temporary change to the law around eviction because of coronavirus. Your landlord might have to give you extra notice before they can evict you - it depends on your tenancy type. 

If you rent from your local council, you’re likely to be an introductory or secure tenant. If you rent from a housing association, you’re likely to be an assured or assured shorthold tenant. If you rent from a private landlord, you can check your tenancy type

If your landlord gives you an eviction notice on or after 26 March 2020, the notice has to be increased to 3 months for these tenancy types:

  • assured tenancy

  • assured shorthold tenancy

  • protected tenancy

  • secure tenancy

  • flexible tenancy

  • demoted tenancy

  • introductory tenancy

If you have a different type of tenancy, your landlord doesn’t have to give you any extra notice. 

If you’re renting a room in your landlord’s home, your landlord can ask you to leave - they won’t have to go to court to evict you. You can check what rights you have as a lodger.

If your landlord has started court action to evict you

The court service has postponed all eviction processes for 3 months from 27 March 2020. If your landlord has gone to court to evict you, you won’t have to leave your home yet.

You can find out more about what to do if you’re being evicted for rent arrears

You can also find out more about coronavirus support for renters on GOV.UK.

If you normally have to leave the house to pay your rent

Ask your landlord if you can pay your rent in a different way, such as a card payment over the phone or an online transfer. You can also contact your bank for advice about different ways to pay. 

If you can’t pay your mortgage

The government has announced that if you can’t pay your mortgage because of coronavirus you might be able to have a 3-month payment holiday. 

If you can, keep making your payments until your mortgage provider agrees you can take a payment holiday.

You should talk to your provider if you're already behind with your mortgage payments. You might still be able to get a payment holiday.

Your home shouldn't be repossessed because of coronavirus.

You can read the Financial Conduct Authority's guidance.

You can also find out more about dealing with mortgage problems.

If you can’t pay your energy bills

Speak to your energy supplier as soon as you can. You might be able to set up a payment plan with them to help spread the cost of your bills.

Find out more about what to do if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills

If you have a prepayment energy meter

Your supplier will try to help you find ways to keep your energy supply connected if you can’t top up your meter because of coronavirus. 

Tell your supplier as soon as possible if you can’t top up. You’ll find their contact details on their website or on your bill.

Check our advice on what to do if:

If you can’t pay your water bill

It’s best to speak to your water company as soon as you can if you’re having problems paying your bill. You might be able to get a payment holiday on your bill, or move to a cheaper tariff.

You can find out more about what to do if you’re struggling to pay your water bill.

You can also read the information for customers on Water UK's website.

If you can't pay a county court judgment or court order

You might be able to change the amount you have to pay. Find out how to change what you pay.

If you can't pay your tax bill

If you're struggling to pay your tax bill, you should speak to HRMC straight away. You can call them on their coronavirus helpline:

HMRC coronavirus helpline
Telephone: 0800 0159 559
Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm
Calls to this number are free.

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